Buy the Gun That Killed Dillinger

City law prohibits actual gun from being present at auction

By Matt Bartosik
|  Tuesday, Jun 23, 2009  |  Updated 4:03 PM PDT
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Buy the Gun That Killed Dillinger

That is not the gun that killed Dillinger -- but you can own it.

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On July 22, 1934, infamous bank robber John Dillinger went to see a movie with two female companions at the Biograph Theater in Lincoln Park. When they exited the building, one of the women — the "Lady in Red"— tipped off police waiting outside. Dillinger, possibly recognizing one of the undercover FBI agents, bolted into a nearby alley and drew his pistol. He was shot three times, twice in the chest and once in the back of his neck.

East Chicago police Captain Timothy A. O'Neil was one of the men responsible for Dillinger's death. And soon, his Colt Army Special revolver, which delivered one of the fatal shots, will be up for auction.

At 12 noon on July 28 — just six days after the 75th anniversary of Dillinger's death — the .38-caliber gun will be auctioned at Chicago's Leslie Hindman Auctioneers. While it has been estimated to be worth $8,000 to $12,000, auctioneers say it could sell for much more than that. Another police gun at the deadly scene sold at auction for $17,550 in November 2007.

The 5-inch-barrel gun is now stored at Shore Galleries in Lincolnwood. Because the City of Chicago bans handguns and automatic weapons within city limits, the gun itself will not be present at the auction (1338 W Lake). Instead, an image of the gun will be projected on a screen.

Dillinger reportedly once escaped from prison with a fake handgun carved from wood and blackened with shoe polish. However, this gun is very real, so all bidders must comply with state and federal gun laws.

Matt Bartosik, editor of Off the Rocks' next issue, is fascinated by Chicago's history of organized crime.

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